Sunday, December 18, 2011

On Being Reviewed

In sixteen days my novel will be out. I've gotten very nice reviews in Publishers Weekly, and the January issues of O and Elle. And then there's Goodreads. Because I'm getting very legitimate feedback from mainstream media that my book is worth reading, checking my reviews on Goodreads is like being addicted to crack even though I have access to the good stuff.

Let me put it another way.

Reading amateur reviews of your book is like eavesdropping at a slumber party, when everyone else thinks you're asleep. If someone says something mean or catty or false, your instinct is to call her out on it, but you keep pretending to be asleep so that she'll keep talking. That's how I feel. Like a twelve-year-old. Like the time I slept over at my best friend's house and someone put my bra in the freezer so the next morning I had ice cube boobs on my way to modeling class.*

Because of NetGalley, basically anyone can download a free copy of my book and "review" it in advance of its publication. Anyone can write something like, "Don’t let my three stars fool you: The Fallback Plan is a really good book." Or, "What I disliked was that she felt too deeply and thought deeply." Or, "There wasn't a lot of action and hardly any "plot" per say [sic]."

On her blog, Anne R. Allen recently wrote a guide to Amazon reader reviewing for the clueless, a post that I love. To summarize her advice to reader-reviewers: you're not writing for the New Yorker, not every book is trying to be War and Peace (or Anna Karenina for that matter), and if you actually liked it, give it more than 3 stars. 

My friend Sarah advised that I pretend Goodreads is my ex-boyfriend's Facebook page, and avoid it in order to preserve my mental health. But I think I keep going back because I'm waiting for my ideal reader, my one true love reader...someone who reads my book and feels like it was written for her. Because that's the reading experience I've had with my favorite novels, and what inspired me to write one of my own.

True love reader, are you out there?

* Another story for another time.


Maggie May said...

Leigh! Congratulations! I'm brimming with happiness for you. A good review in O is gold!!! Go, go, go!

Leigh Stein said...

Thanks Maggie! I am extremely grateful.

Sareh said...

Well, I have yet to read your book. I am looking forward to reading it because ... well ... so far, I think I might be your true love reader :) I have a blog as well, and have been writing since I was a tween. I have had my poems published, here and there, over the years but have written as an aside. Your writing has inspired me. Thank you. You are very talented! I look forward to reading more, and buying your book! My blog is
It would be an honour to have you read my work! xo

Anonymous said...

I know I am 4-months late on this post, but The Fallback Plan is definitely my favorite book that I have ever read. I am 20-years old and still in college, but the way you described the aftermath of those 4-years is exactly how I imagine it to be.

It's funny, as I read your book I swore I had written it myself. There were things in there that I was sure were unique thoughts to me. Your writing about wanting to develop a chronic illness, or wanting to throw yourself in the lake with the dark irony that you could never do so because you didn't have a car..these are things I was sure of that no one else thought, it was comforting to know I was not alone.

I don't know how or why you wrote the book, if you wrote it from how you really feel or how you thought others must feel in that stage of their life, but I thought you should know that regardless of your intentions, The Fallback Plan changed my life.

I hope all is well with you, I'm sorry I did not stumble upon your blog sooner than just now so I could've given you the praise you deserved months ago.

Leigh Stein said...

"Anonymous," your comment means so much to me. It's an author's dream come true: for a reader to feel like the book was written just for them. I'm so happy Esther resonated with you and your experience.